Welcome to Michigan wildlife. When it comes to the habitat that supports Michigan wildlife, usually one of two types of habitat springs to mind, coastal areas and forests.
Outside of Michigan, people may be unaware of the face that much of the state is coastal. Four of the five Great Lakes border the state and to the number of inland lakes in the state. The 3,000 miles of coastline support almost 150 bird species. Of course some of them might also choose forest habitat, but the presence of many water birds such as shorebirds and ducks serves to differentiate wildlife in the two habitats.
Michigan can rightfully be characterized as a land of forests. Moving south to north in the state dramatically increases forest cover. Southern areas are predominantly agriculture areas with a small portion of forested areas. Boreal forests begin appearing in bulk as one progresses north to the Upper Peninsula. Recent Michigan government statistics, for example show that most counties in the Upper Peninsula have close to ninety percent forest cover.
Michigan’s three National Forests cover over three million acres of land. Michigan state forests add an additional four million acres of land. Add in over one hundred state parks and the potential wildlife watching options in the state are endless.
Both sets of forests, for example, are filled with wildlife from the forest floor to the top of the forest canopy. Wildlife watching is one hike or campground stay away.
The adjective Boreal attached to a variety of Michigan wildlife such as Boreal animals and Boreal birds.
When it comes to Michigan animals, boreal or other, it’s important to note that wolverines do not live in Michigan. The small population was extirpated in the nineteenth century. Everyone in Michigan knows that. The incongruence between symbol and reality consistently gets addressed, and life in Michigan goes on. Putting Michigan wolverines temporarily in a bracket, he state does host a wide variety of other Mustelids such as mink, weasels, martens, fishers, skunks and badgers. In fact, it was once thought that martens and fishers also disappeared from the state, so government officials created a program to reintroduce them.
In 1997 the White-tailed Deer was designated the official state game mammal, and that’s about all the official celebrating of mammals that occurs in the state. The native moose population also took an extreme hit and in the 1980s, five dozen were reintroduced into the Upper Peninsula with the hope of creating a self-sustaining population.
Otherwise, both the Boreal Forests and many parts of the coastal Great Lakes areas provides habitat for larger mammals, that range from common to uncommon. Some like the Red Fox, make themselves at home at the local picnic tables.
- Black Bears
- Moose, state threatened
- Gray wolf, state threatened
- Canadian lynx, state endangered
- Red Fox
Smaller critters such as the Eastern Chipmunk abound. The larger members of the rodent family such as beavers and porcupine can also be found, although populations of some are in decline.
Michigan Wildlife: Herps
Both the forested areas and coastal areas support wetlands and they are the primary habitat for the state’s amphibian and reptile population. Because of it’s northern climate Michigan supports a modest amount of both amphibian and reptile species. The painted turtle, pictured, is the official state reptile. It is also one of ten native turtle species.
Fourteen species of frogs and toads make the Michigan wildlife list. The two toad species add to Michigan wildlife diversity. Sometimes it’s quite the puzzle to identify the American Toad and the Fowler’s toad because their skin color does little to help with identification. The picture shows a very colorful toad that has a skin color to blend in with the fall leaves.
A few identification clues might help the process. For example, on average, the American Toad has spots on the underside of the chin and top of chest. The picture shows the toad to have the spots. Therefore, the toad is tentatively identified as the American Toad.
Five treefrogs make the Michigan herps list, although the range for a few are very limited. The Boreal Chorus Frog, for example, is found in only one county in the Upper Peninsula. The Blanchard’s cricket frog is designated as a threatened species. The picture shows a very common Northern Spring Peeper.
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